USCIS Announces New Guidelines for Spousal Petitions Involving Minors

On April 12, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) added to its February update on spousal petitions involving minors. USCIS has now decided that I-130 spousal petitions involving a minor require more heightened scrutiny than has been applied in the past. The new guidance was released as an update to the USCIS Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM), and it directs officers to conduct an additional interview, early in the petition process, for I-130 spousal petitions involving a minor. The purpose of interviewing spousal applicants earlier on during the I-130 process is to create an extra opportunity for USCIS to evaluate the petition and the claimed spousal relationship. This new interview requirement is an add-on to guidance published earlier in the year by USCIS, which detailed factors that officers should consider when evaluating I-130 spousal petitions involving a minor. For instance, officers should consider whether the marriage is valid in the country in which it took place, and officers should also take note if the marriage violates the law or public policy of the state where the couple plans to reside. The circumstances under which USCIS will be conducting these new, in-person interviews are laid out clearly in the AFM. USCIS […]
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What is Direct Consulate Filing?

Direct Consulate Filing (DCF) is an expedited process through which a United States citizen living oversees can petition the government for an immigrant visa for his or her immediate relatives. DCF requires that, instead of sending an I-130 petition back to the United States, the citizen sends it to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country in which he or she is residing. It is important to note that this procedure is not offered at all consulates and embassies and to date, the government has not issued a list of available consulates that offer this service. The DCF requirements are modest. In order to file a Form I-130 Petition through DCF, the Petitioner must have U.S. Citizenship and have lived abroad for a minimum of six months. DCF may also be available in extenuating circumstances such as members of the military facing deployment, emergency situations, situations involving the health or safety of the petitioner, and when it is in the national interest of the U.S.  Ultimately, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate handles the visa petition directly and decides the immigrant’s eligibility for a green card. This is the advantage of DCF: I-130 applications are handled directly by a U.S. […]
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A Proposed Solution to the Green Card Backlog

A new bill has just been introduced in both houses of the United States Congress that would make a dramatic change to the current immigration system by scrapping the per-country limit on green cards. Bill HR 1044, also known as the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, proposes that green cards be issued by category and date, as opposed to the current system which allows a limited number of green cards per country.  Those who drafted the bill believe that the change will help to reduce the backlog in countries like China and India where applicants wait years for their approved applications to amount to U.S. employment. Chinese applicants currently have a backlog of 67,031 approved employment-based petitions, while Indian applicants have 306,601. By eliminating the per-country limit, the new bill will provide green cards to applicants on a first come, first serve basis, which will result in applicants from countries with the most applicants, like China and India, dominating the market. This change to the immigration system may be on the horizon because the bill seems to have a good chance of passing. HR 1044 has bipartisan support in Congress, as well as the support of tech giants like Google, […]
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USCIS Strengthens Guidance on Spousal Petitions Involving Minors

In the United States, state law determines the minimum age that an individual can be married. Every state but two requires that both members of the married couple be 18 years of age or over to be married without parental or judicial consent. Occasionally, immigrants coming into the United States have minor spouses, or immigrants living in the United States want to bring minor spouses into the country. Immigration officers subject petitions involving these minor spouses to special scrutiny. USCIS has just announced that it will be publishing additional clarifying instructions for its officers to consider when adjudicating spousal immigration petitions involving minors. These additional instructions were published as an update to the USCIS Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM). It clarifies age requirements for a petitioner filing an Affidavit of Support for a spouse in conjunction with a concurrently filed I-485, and identifies factors officers should consider when adjudicating a Form I-130 spousal petition involving a minor.  What does the updated guidance instruct USCIS officers to look for when considering a petition? While there are no statutory age requirements to petition for a spouse or to be sponsored as a spousal beneficiary, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will consider […]
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Understanding the Visa Bulletin

The government has placed statutory limits on how many people can immigrate to the United States each year, so once you submit your application, you may have to wait until there is a visa available in the category you applied for. Each month, the Department of State (DOS) issues a visa bulletin, which indicates when visas are available based on your priority date and country of birth. Your priority date is the date that your petition was approved by USCIS. If a labor certification was required with your petition, the priority date is the date when the certification was accepted for processing by the Department of Labor.  What chart do I use? The visa bulletin contains two charts for each visa category with different dates: final action dates, and dates for filing applications. If filing via Adjustment of Status, USCIS will determine which chart controls in a given month. If filing via Immigrant Processing, the National Visa Center will reach out once you can begin these steps. In general, the green card cannot be issued until the final action date is current. Visit the USCIS website here to determine what chart you should use.  What do I do when my […]
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Featured Client of the Month: Joerg Kuehnelt

Berardi Immigration recently helped Joerg Kuehnelt obtain a green card. Before working with Berardi Immigration, Joerg had worked with an attorney who he felt lacked experience and did not fully understand the application process. Ultimately, he was denied the visa because he did not sufficiently qualify for that particular type of visa. He then turned to Berardi Immigration who represented his employer on immigration matters.  Berardi Immigration was able to secure Joerg an L-1 visa through his employer, and then he was able to apply for his green card. Joerg was “happy that Berardi took my concerns seriously and provided extra care to ensure I do sufficiently qualify for a U.S. visa before applying.” He was also impressed that “Berardi took the time to understand my job profile and feed that into the application to ensure it represents my duties correctly. In addition, they took extra care to explain the process and requirements to me so I did feel comfortable submitting my application.” Now that he is a green card holder, Joerg is looking forward to “being able to work a couple of hours on the side as a barista in a top-notch coffee shop. I had great coffees in […]
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Change in TB Test for Green Card Applicants

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released updated instructions regarding medical screening for tuberculosis (TB) for applicants for permanent residency. These new instructions replace the tuberculin skin test (TST) as the first TB screening method with a TB blood test, called an interferon-gamma release assay or IGRA. A TST test will no longer be able to be used as a substitute for IGRA testing.  Civil surgeons are responsible for conducting these tests and examinations for green card applicants. These physicians are authorized by USCIS to conduct the required medical examinations for applicants looking to register for permanent residence or adjust their status while in the United States.  Because TB can be difficult to detect, the CDC now mandates the IGRA test for green card applicants, as this test has been shown to be more dependable and accurate at detecting TB than previously favored skin tests. Given the recent nature of this change, applicants may want to confirm that their civil surgeon is familiar with the new requirements.  If you are interested in applying for a green card, be sure to contact Berardi Immigration Law to explore your options with an attorney today!
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